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Indiana basketball roster undervalued in CBS Sports’ Top 101 players list



Indiana basketball center Kel'el Ware
The Indiana basketball roster seems to be getting overlooked by having just one player in the top-101 players list for CBS Sports. (Indiana Athletics)

As college basketball enters the final week of the preseason, projections and ratings are in full swing — that includes top players around the country. For the Indiana basketball program, its roster seems quite undervalued, however.

In the CBS Sports’ Top 100 and 1 Players, Indiana seems nearly absent. In fact, there is only one player from the Indiana basketball roster listed in the top-101 players. That is Oregon transfer center Kel’el Ware.

Ware comes in barely cracking the list at No. 99.

The list is complied by a trio of CBS Sports analysts — Kyle Boone, Matt Norlander and Gary Parrish.

“Some people have forgotten or simply overlooked the promise Ware once had as a five-star freshman who didn’t quite pan out at Oregon. We are not among those people,” Boone wrote. “Ware is still just 19 years old and gets a fresh start at Indiana with a chance to make an instant impact down low. He has NBA size and ability that coach Mike Woodson should be able to squeeze out of him.”

Indiana fans saw the first of Ware in last Sunday’s exhibition when he led the team in scoring with 14 points. He also added six rebounds and two blocks.

Trending: Indiana basketball newcomers impress as new offensive style shows in exhibition win over UIndy

Ware came to Indiana with one major knock — his motor. He came into his freshman season as a projected lottery pick in the 2023 NBA Draft but after an inconsistent and difficult freshman season, that stock fell.

While Ware is still a projected first round selection in the 2024 NBA Draft, there are more questions than answers about his NBA future at this point. Sunday’s exhibition performance was a good sign, now it’s about replicating that moving forward.

Outside of Ware, however, Indiana has talent. It has 2023 five-star wing Mackenzie Mgbako — the No. 8 overall prospect in the 247Sports Composite Rankings. Former five-star and top-20 prospect Malik Reneau is amongst the expected sophomore who should see a drastic jump in production this season as well.

In addition, Indiana has a veteran point guard in Xavier Johnson, who just a few years ago was one of the top guards in the ACC. Most of the national media seemingly forgot about Johnson following his injury last season that held him out from Dec. 17 on.

“I mean, I haven’t seen all of them yet in person, but I would say from my watch, I think we have a pretty unique team,” Mike Woodson said this summer about the Indiana basketball roster. “We’ll be more athletic than last year’s team. It’s hard compete with Trayce’s (Jackson-Davis) athletic ability, but I think Kel’el (Ware) is up there because he’s seven foot and he can actually jump out of the gym as well and he can spread the floor out and shoot as well. (Mackenzie) Mgbako, he can shoot, he can score at all three levels. I mean, I can go down a list, but I ain’t gonna name all of them, but I think we have some pretty solid pieces coming in.”

Indiana has one more exhibition tuneup on Friday against Marian. The regular season tips off for the Hoosiers at home on Nov. 7 against Florida Gulf Coast.

SEE ALSO: A simple question of ‘Do you know coach Knight?’ leads to Indiana basketball head coach Mike Woodson landing his first coaching job 

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Alec Lasley is the owner of Hoosier Illustrated, a comprehensive site covering news, updates and recruiting for Indiana University athletics. Alec has covered Indiana for six years and is a credentialed media member. He has previously worked for both Rivals and 247Sports.